Apr 27, 2019

U.S. citizen released from Venezuela after 5-year detainment

A U.S. citizen detained in Venezuela since 2014 on attempted murder and weapons trafficking charges was released and flown back to the U.S. this week, NBC reports.

Details: A U.S. State Department official speaking on the condition of anonymity told NBC that a Venezuelan judge granted Todd Leininger parole in May 2018 and his release was court-ordered in November. In a 2014 Reuters interview, Barbara Leininger said her son previously admitted to shooting a man in self-defense during what he described as an "altercation" and that he has "some psychological issues," as reported by NBC.

The big picture: The U.S.- Venezuela relationship is currently strained by escalating U.S. sanctions and suffering of the Venezuelan people as a political stalemate unfolds between Nicolás Maduro's regime and National Assembly President Juan Guaidó. The U.S. withdrew all diplomatic staff from Venezuela after recognizing Guaidó as the country's interim president 3 months ago. President Trump has suggested the U.S. might be ready to back Guaidó with force.

Go deeper: A closer look at Venezuela's crisis

Go deeper

Inside hackers' pivot to medical espionage

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

A wave of cyber-spying around COVID-19 medical research is once more demonstrating the perils of treating cybersecurity as a separate, walled-off realm.

Driving the news: U.S. officials recently announced an uptick in Chinese-government affiliated hackers targeting medical research and other facilities in the United States for data on a potential COVID-19 cure or effective treatments to combat the virus. Additionally, “more than a dozen countries have redeployed military and intelligence hackers to glean whatever they can about other nations’ virus responses,” reports the New York Times.

The downsides of remote work

Data: Reproduced from Prudential/Morning Consult "Pulse of the American Worker Survey"; Chart: Axios Visuals

The coronavirus pandemic has forced a large-scale experiment in working from home. It has gone well enough that many companies are expanding their remote work expectations for the foreseeable future, and remote employees want to continue to work that way.

Yes, but: The downsides of remote work — less casual interaction with colleagues, an over-reliance on Zoom, lack of in-person collaboration and longer hours — could over time diminish the short-term gains.

Hong Kong's economic future hangs in the balance

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

As Beijing forces a sweeping national security law on Hong Kong, the once semi-autonomous city's status as one of Asia's largest financial hubs is at risk.

Why it matters: Political freedoms and strong rule of law helped make Hong Kong a thriving center for international banking and finance. But China's leaders may be betting that top firms in Hong Kong will trade some political freedoms for the economic prosperity Beijing can offer.